New EPA retrofit grants designed for small-business truckers

| 4/2/2008

The EPA announced Wednesday, April 2, the availability of nearly $50 million in grant funding targeted toward small trucking fleets aimed at reducing emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of diesel engines.

The $49.2 million in funding is for the existing fleet of 11 million diesel engines that predate EPA emission standards. Addressing the existing fleet is important because diesel vehicles often remain in use for decades, according to the EPA.

The definition of “small” trucking fleets has not yet been determined. But, the EPA is currently working with the Small Business Administration to nail down the specifics.

The unprecedented sum was authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and funded for the first time this fiscal year.

The grant money is split up between three different programs:

  • National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program – contains the majority of the funding dedicated to deployment of EPA-verified and certified technologies. This component will be administered by EPA’s regional offices. $27.6 million is available for Fiscal Year 2008.
  • National Clean Diesel Emerging Technologies Program – fosters the deployment of innovative technologies through a national grant competition. To qualify as an emerging technology, a manufacturer must submit an approvable application and test plan for verification to EPA. Approximately $3.4 million is available for fiscal year 2008.
  • National Clean Diesel Finance Program – allows EPA for the first time to issue competitive grants to establish low-cost revolving loans or other financing programs that will provide funding to fleets to reduce diesel emissions. About $3.4 million is available for fiscal year 2008.

Small-business truckers interested in applying for the retrofit grants will not necessarily work directly with the EPA. State, local and regional governments will apply for chunks of the grant money and administer the distribution of the money to the on-the-road applicants, according to an EPA spokeswoman.

Grant recipients can use a variety of cost-effective emission reduction strategies, such as EPA-verified retrofit and idle-reduction technology, EPA-certified engine upgrades, vehicle or equipment replacements, cleaner fuels and creation of innovative clean diesel financing programs.

The program will continue to be rolled out through the spring.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor